Battery life has always been the main limiting factor when it comes to drones. The battery dictates how long can a drone fly in the air. It decides how far the drone can go without landing or recharging. For delivery drones, the battery also dictates how heavy a cargo can be, correlating that with both flight time and distance as well. At the end of the day, the battery life is the heart of a drone. With an inferior ‘heart’, the drone will not get far.
In fact, that is the very basis for many upgrades and improvements for drones over the past few years. Every company in the world wants to boast their drone’s battery capabilities. Businesses all over the globe are in search for that one drone that can last a long time.
China’s Morning Star Drone
Several companies made their attempts in this present problem. Some tried increasing battery space by adding more battery units inside the drone. This meant scrapping and gutting the drone to reach the maximum space available. Others still, prefer using laser beams to charge drones while still flying. This means that the drone, in theory, no longer need to land for recharging as it can do it while in the air. A similar idea involves electrical towers that charge nearby drones without landing. All these, of course, are still in their developmental phases.
The most common idea floating around is using solar panels in order to gain additional energy from the sun while the drone is in flight. In fact, this an idea that has been used in drones as big as planes, giving as much surface area for solar panels as possible.
In China, a similar idea for a drone may have broken some expectations. The Morning Star boasts solar-charged flight while the drone itself weighs less than 20 kg. The drone weighs at a total of 18.9 kg, while being capable of flying 20,000 meters up.
The Morning Star aims to take a similar route with the drone Zephyr. Both have similar designs, and are aimed as temporary satellites that can orbit closer to the Earth. This provides a temporary, cheaper, and more mobile alternative to the heavier standard satellites that orbit the planet.
Competition is incredibly stiff, however. The Morning Star must be able to get close to the Zephyr’s flight longevity to be in the same conversation. The Zephyr a few months prior completed a 26-day continuous flight. This is thanks to the designs as well as the solar panels that kept the drone afloat during the ordeal.